I remember one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the back of a
tree just as a butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out. I waited
awhile, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on
it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my
eyes, faster than life. The case opened; the butterfly started slowly crawling out, and I
shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the
wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I
tried to help it with my breath, in vain.
It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the
wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced
the butterfly to appear all crumpled, before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few
seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.
That little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight I have on my conscience. For I
realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature. We should not
hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the
If you have ever owned, or been owned by a cat- then perhaps you will
As a cat grows older it becomes more "set" in its' ways- less
secure- more in need of continual affection. If the cat is upset by his or her owner,
often she can be very demonstrative. Normally a cat's stubbornness will outlast an owner's
and the cat eventually gets its' way- to the mutual satisfaction of both owner and cat.
If however, the owner tries to break the cat and win in the battle of
wills- the cat may be destroyed- heart broken, denied and may even die.
As with our cats, we must not break our children- just help them see
things a little more our way...
To aid life, leaving it free, however, to unfold itself, that is the basic task
of the educator. Ours was a house for children, rather than a real school. We had prepared
a place for children where a diffused culture could be assimilated, without any need for
direct instruction...Yet these children learned to read and write before they were five,
and no one had given them any lessons. At that time it seemed miraculous that children of
four and a half should be able to write, and that they should have learned without the
feeling of having been taught. We puzzled over it for a long time. Only after repeated
experiments did we conclude with certainty that all children are endowed with this
capacity to absorb culture. If this be true - we then argued - if culture can be acquired
without effort, let us provide the children with other elements of culture. And then we
saw them absorb far more than reading and writing: botany, zoology, mathematics,
geography, and all with the same ease, spontaneously and without getting tired. And so we
discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a
natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by
listening to words, but in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his
environment. The teacher's task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange a series of
motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child. My experiments,
conducted in many different countries, have not been going on for forty years
(ed. now eighty-five years), and as the children grew up parents kept asking me to extend
my methods to the later ages. We then found that individual activity is the one factor
that stimulates and produces development, and that this is not more true for the little
ones of preschool age than it is for the junior, middle, and upper school children.
Whoever touches the life of the child touches the most sensitive point of a whole
which has roots in the most distant past and climbs toward the infinite future. Whoever
touches the child touches the vital and delicate point where all can be renewed, where all
is pulsating with life,where the secrets of the soul lay hidden. To work consciously for
the child and to go deep down, with the tremendous intention of understanding him, would
be to conquer the secrets of mankind, just as so many secrets of nature have been
conquered in the world around us. The activity of the child has always been looked upon as
an expression of his vitality. But his activity is really the work he performs in building
up the man he is to become. It is the incarnation of the human spirit.
The words or the language, as they are written or spoken,do not seem to play any
role in my mechanism of thought. The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in
thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be
"voluntarily" reproduced and combined. There is of course a certain connection
between those elements and relevant logical concepts. It is also clear that the desire to
arrive finally at logically connected concepts is the emotional basis of this rather vague
play with the above mentioned elements. But taken from a psychological viewpoint, this
combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive "thought--before
there is any connection with logical construction in words or other kinds of signs which
can be communicated to others. The above mentioned elements are, in my case, of visual and
some muscular type. Conventional words or other signs have to be sought for laboriously
only in a second stage, when the mentioned associative play is sufficiently established and can be reproduced at will.
When I examine myself and my methods of thought I come to the conclusion that the gift of
fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing knowledge. ...I do not share the
common fallacy of an antagonism between science, literature, and art... Creative
imagination is the vital factor in all of them, and I was fortunate to learn this at an
I rarely think in words at all.
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the
same level of thinking we were at when we created them."